31 March 2011

Mug rug - or is it a snack mat?

I have been following Mug rug madness hosted by Erin at Two More Seconds.  I haven't actually made any of these yet, but Erin's post "the when of mug rugs" made me laugh.   I'm new to quilting and one of the things I have to learn is to find as many interesting, inventive and humerous ways of justifying them.  Well maybe not justifying them, but not feeling bad about my ever increasing pile of quilts etc.
I digress.  From Erin's post,  I did find my way to this mug rug tutorial at a I'm Just a guy who quilts.   I thought it was striking so I had a search through my (very small) stash, and found some material I bought many moons ago when I had a go at crazy patchwork.  And here's what I made

It's a bit wrinkly here and there but there again, so am I.   And it was good practice for straight lines and accurate seams - some are better than others.   I'll definitely have a go at a few more.

I'm happy to call mine a mug rug.   I know some of you have a problem with that but to be honest I'm not really sure why.   It's got to be something rude!

28 March 2011

Best album of all time

Whilst waiting for the spuds to cook tonight, my husband asked the question "What is your all time favourite, No 1 album?   Difficult question because there are so many with 2 or 3 brilliant tracks, but if pushed my choice would be Rod Stewart's "Tartan Album".   I would have expected his favourite to be something by Queen, but no it was actually one of my albums - David Bowie's Hunky Dory.  Which started me questioning my choice.   Maybe Tapesty by Carole King, something by dire straits, Beautiful (bleedin') South,or even more up to date, Paloma Faith.   Or my chill out musice by Enya.  What about the Bay City Rollers?

What do you think?  have you got a favourite or is it just to difficult to choose? 

27 March 2011

Gardening in March

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to keep a record of my gardening year, so that I can track it back year on year.  So this one is probably a bit boring for non-gardeners.  Feel free to move on but please, do come back.

Over the last two weeks our garden has slowly started into life - a bit behind the UK but we'll catch up quickly.  These photos were taken last weekend and things have moved quite a bit since then

The last picture is a lime which I planted last spring.  I want to keep a record of how big is is now because I don't want to let it grow too big. Excuse the crap in the background.

Seeds sown so far in March

Tomatoes - all germinated and transplated today.  Costaluto - beef tomatoes, Marmade - Beef tomatoes I think, San Marzano - plum tomatoes, Gardeners Delight and Red Cherry, Moneymaker
Peppers - two varieties all germinated
Broccoli - germinated
Leeks - 3 varieties sewed twice because I'm numpty and forgot I'd sown some the week before.  First lot germinated
Butternut squash (saved from one from the supermarket so don't know if it will grow
Spring onions (in the greenhouse)
Carrots (in the greenhouse)
Sweet Peas
Broad Beans
French Beans

Phew.  Not bad really. 

Have pototoes and onions, but can't put them in yet because we are having some work done soon (very soon I hope)on the garden to terrace it and hopefully stop it all washing down the hill. Our Neighbour has already cut the lawn, but he is a bit obsessive, so I think we'll wait until it's actually growing!  Between us we have also sieved the compost from 2 years ago (NB.  don't put in the elastic bands from the spring onions - they don't rot down.), and turned over last years, ready to start a new one.   So far we haven't had much to put in other than peelings etc and grass, but expect to get a bit more this year.

It's great to be out there again,  but we are mindful that the first year in our new house ( 2008)  we had snow in early April.  So don't get carried away.

That'll do until April.  Bye for now

26 March 2011

Nachtsmarkt, Vienna

Yesterday afternoon, we popped down to Vienna.   I just love saying that, and even after living here for five years, it still gives me goosebumps.   I thinks it's something to do with being English and living on an island where everywhere (except Scotland and Wales) is "abroad".  Living in the centre of Europe, several capital cities are only a short train ride or car journey away, and it seems so exotic.  We can be in the centre of Vienna within an hour on the train.

Anyways, we were taking a friend to the airport so we decided to stop off at our favourite place in Vienna, the  Nachtsmarkt.  It is open every day except Sunday from 6am to 6pm, and is a wonderfully colourful, noisy cosmopolitan place.  If you listen, you can hear many, many languages being spoken, by the customers and stallholders alike.  And the food you can buy is wonderful.  There is such a variety of product from all over the world, and all presented so beautifully.  I took a few photies to show you




and (look away veggies) hams and salamis

There is also a colourful array of olives and stuffed peppers, onions, tomatoes, figs- I took a picture of these too, but the reflection on the counter is even worse than the one above.

We used to buy lots when we were there, but in all honesty it is very expensive.  So we try to limit it to a few specials.   Home made fresh ravioli, 2 year old serrano ham, a
nice bit of cheese (Czech cheese is rubbish), and a few of those stuffs things I mentioned.   I could've bought loads of fruit and veg, but I the everyday stuff is half the price at home, so it has to be something we can't normally get.  Oh and there are a few small shops that stock indian/chinese ingredients that we can't get at home, so we stock up on these too.

Then we stopped for something to eat.  There are hundreds of cafe's and restaurants to choose from, with food from all over the world.  I generally need one with a toilet by this stage!  Here's a photo looking down the market from the restaurant we chose. 

It's very relaxing just watching the world go by, but with the car park being 4 euros an hour, we did cut it a bit short!

All in all a great couple of hours.  We love mooching through markets, and unfortunately we rarely get them in Czech, so this is a real treat for us.  If you are visiting Vienna, it's well worth taking the time out from the usual sight seeing.  On a Saturday there is a huge Flea Market too.  But as I said, window shopping is recommended as it is very expensive.  Well we think it is because we're used to Czech prices.  I've lost touch with UK prices now, so maybe for you it wouldn't be too bad.

24 March 2011

Lily's Quilt-along

I was pleasantly surprised when Lynne posted the next stage of her qulit along, as first stage of sewing the segments together wasn't as hard as I thought.  As this is the first time I'd attempted a Dresen plate, I don't know what I'm doing so I patiently waited for the instructions whilst everyone else surged ahead.  I've got a first class degree in bimbling along without reading instructions properly, and it nearly always ends in tears.

So I did wait, and as I say,  the next step wasn't too difficult.  But I'm glad I did wait because Lily's tips for organising yourself were invaluable.  Without them I'm sure I would've sewn them together wrongly.  However it wasn't without it's crises.   Firstly can anyone tell me why, when you have twenty fairly short seams to sew, the bobbin runs out of cotton half way through no. 20.  Aaargh.  

Now those of you that read this post will know that my old machine is on it's last legs and I hope to get a new one on order at the Prague patchwork exhibition next weekend.   Do inanimate objects like sewing machines have a sixth sense that tells them when they're on borrowed time?   Because now, on top of everything else, it's decided it can't wind bobbins.   But I wound enough by hand to sew the last seem and here it is

Despite all of the above, and the fact that I still have problems sewing a consistent 1/4 inch, straight seam, it's flat!!!!!   Yessss!!!!!!  

And now I understand how quilters have so many different WIP's on the go.   I've got to wait another week for the next stage, so what can I do in between (without a sewing machine that is).

Thanks again Lynne.

21 March 2011

30 years ago today............

..........it was pouring with rain and blowing a hoolie, but still we had a wonderful day. 

Yes today is our 30th wedding anniversary.   We've had fantastic times together (well, I think we have anyway), with many adventures, and I hope still many to come (maybe another 30 years?).  Didn't we look young?   Of course, we haven't changed a bit (liar, liar pants on fire)

I don't know if my husband  reads this blog,  but if you do, I wouldn't want to embarrass you by saying something soppy like I love you..... but I do!

20 March 2011

A revelation and the essentials of life

You know every now and then you get one of those moment where the light bulb clicks on and all becomes clear. Just had one of those.

I've just cut the skinny strips for the QAL below, using my new ruler.   Why should this make a difference?  Well it's in inches.   Yes I know you've all got one of those so why the excitement.  I will explain.  I started quilting whilst living here in Czech Republic, so my ruler was purchased locally and is therefore in centimetres.  Cutting out has been a long laborious process involving converting inches to mm, then trying to get an accurate cut for something that is 63.67mm (or similar).  I tried putting tape on the ruler - that didn't work, and I have often resorted to making templates from card.  It's also nearly impossible to cut squarely because there is no definite edge to work to.  But today I cut 12 1"x10" strips in a matter of moments and they are a) largely accurate and b) largely squared up properly.  Result! 

Actually if any of my readers are from mainland Europe, you will probably have experienced the same problem.   I have bought a couple of quilting books in Czech, which are translated from the original English, so all the measurements are in inches and yards.   I grew up with imperial, but am comfortable with metric, but swapping from one to another gets very confusing.   I managed to get the inch rulers because my sister in law drove down to Austria for our skiing holiday so I ordered  lots of essentials and half of Amazon's stock so that she could bring them down with her.    As well as quilting essentials she brought a few life-savers - brown sauce, bovril, PG Tips, salad cream and quite a lot of cadbury's chocolate.   Things you just can't live without.

18 March 2011

My first Quilt-along

For the first time ever, and without the aid of a safety net, I'm joining a QAL - over at Lily's Quilts.   I've never tried making a dresden plate before and the mechanics of sewing a curved line defeat me.  Although I seem to get curved lines when I'm trying to do straight ones, so maybe I'll find it easy.  I'm not doing the whole quilt mainly due to lack of fabric and a dodgy sewing machine, so I though I'd make a cushion cover for the lounge.   I've some Monaluna fabric tucked away for a while with a lounge cushion in mind as it's the perfect colour and the circley fabric fits in with my curtains perfectly.  I don't have any background fabric yet, but I may be able to find something locally.

So here is so far

But is is HUUGGGE. Much bigger than I though it would be.   I suppose that's just me being stupid and a little inexperienced.   What was I expecting when each piece is 9" deep?   Anyone any ideas on what to make with it? 

I'm more than a little daunted by all those of you on flickr who are already sewing it up!  At the time, Techo-girl here was having trouble printing the templates.  But I'm looking forward to learning how to do it.  Thanks Lily for taking time to do this.

17 March 2011

A Perfect Day

This is my third quilt, which I made at the end of last year for my sister-in-law's 60th Birthday.  The pattern is called Blueberry Chocolate Squares from Karrie Lyne at Freckled Whimsy for Moda.


I spent ages wondering what I could buy for a gift for her birthday then the light bulb came on and I thought about making a quilt.  Duuuhhh! By this time it was too late to order any fabric from the States or the Uk, so I went off to the local fabric shop and got this selection.   The colours are not really my choice but my sister-in-law is definitely a "brown person".   I made it quite quickly over Christmas and was very pleased with it.  The colours came out quite well (although not displayed to their best above) and everything lined up pretty well too.  I don't presume that everyone wants one of my quilts in their house, but as both my brother and his wife are retired now, they spend a lot of time out walking or visiting National Trust properties, often taking picnics with them.   I thought this would make a lovely  picnic blanket.  They also go off to France every year, so I thought it would be a nice travelling companion

However, they have found the perfect place for it in the house

Isn't it a nice feeling when a gift is so appreciated?

And the name for this is A Perfect Day (Lou Reed)

Thanks Karrie for the pattern

14 March 2011

I won! I won!

When I got back from holiday last week I had a message from Linda at Volksfaden to tell me that I had won this Anne Maria Horner Innocent Crush fabric.

Was I excited, or what?  The first give-away I have ever won.  Previously I've not been too sure about this collection of fabric.  It is very hyped-up and, never having seen it in real life, I wondered if it would live up to it's enviable reputation.    It arrived the other day and I can confirm it most certainly does.  It's vibrant and fine, and I'm most certainly going to have to buy some more from Linda.  I especially love the bottom one, and I have a skirt pattern I would like to try in this.  However, it's a few years since I made any clothes so I'm a bit rusty.   I need to try it out on a cheaper fabric I think.   Also the pattern is a one that I bought here, and despite it having English on the outer packaging, the instructions are not in either English or Czech.   Looks like I'll have to resort to French.

Pop over and check out Linda's shop.  As well as having a huge selection of fabric (I've actually seen it and it's like a sweetie shop for grown up ladies) her website is super-cool.  If any of you readers are stuck in a the back-woods of Europe with no good fabric shops, it's a good place to go.

Thanks again Linda.  It was a very generous give-away.

13 March 2011

Spring? What's that then?

I keep reading on other blogs, mainly in UK, that Spring is on the way.  Sadly, although the weather here has been quite warm lately, there are few signs of the arrival of spring.

My daffs are just about poking through and I noticed a few tulips this afternoon too.   I saw some snowdrops and crocuses whilst out walking the dogs yesterday too.   But everything else seems staying well wrapped up.   But once spring does come, it comes fast.  And I'm trying to get ready for it. 

I cleaned out my greenhouse yesterday - here it is ready to go (George is ready to help in the corner).  I am very proud of my greenhouse.  I only got it last summer so it hasn't seen much use yet, just a few perennials I sewed last autumn and some coriander that I over wintered there, but it will be filling up this spring.  I think you'll find me in here a lot.

Anyway, due to lack of spring activity outside, I'm going to cheer things up with this fabric I bought last week

I have been known to moan about the quality and design of locally available fabrics but maybe things are changing.  I found this at my local haberdashery-type shop.  I believe it's Czech fabric, and  it's not a fine as fabrics from Japan and the US, but hey, it's really cute.  And the colours are much brighter than they seem here.   I am working on improving my pictures, really I am, but I usually do them in such a rush, instead of taking time to get it right. Anyways, I think I might make some bunting for the dresser.   Over here in Czech, Easter decorations are as popular, if not more so, than Christmas decorations.  So when in Rome.............

Will post some photos when I've done it.

08 March 2011

It's a hard life

Just got back from a week's skiing in Austria - don't worry no photos of the holiday.   Skiing photographs are all the same - little black dots on vast expanses of white.  Could be anyone, anywhere.  

When I arrived home, in my post box I found a parcel which was this bag which I ordered  from Pam at Hortensia.  I'm really pleased with it - it's already in use for for lunches post etc to work.   But I'm pleased to say the old one, which was starting to shred bits of rafia everywhere, has found a new use

George is a great one for bags/boxes/bins etc.   as you can see  here and out in the garden

It's a hard life!!